Gender Spectrum Conference

I recently attended the Gender Spectrum Family Conference in Seattle. (I led a workshop, “Chronicling Your Story,” for parents of gender-nonconforming children wanting to write about their experience.) There, I met parents from all over the US and Canada, parents with kids just like mine.

I heard from parents who struggle with how to support their children in school, deal with bullying on the playground, and work with their schools to make bathrooms safe. I felt as though I was hearing Sam’s story, over and over—kids from four years old to young adults, kids living in cities and suburbs, going to public and private school, adopted and biological, children of two parents and one, with parents gay and straight.

Parents shared tales of woe—and sometimes horror—about the challenges our children face. But we also shared the wonder of raising children who know so clearly who they are, children willing to face vast adversity just to be themselves. In a room with so many parents full of so much love and compassion for their children, I realized that we are strong. Though we may be the only ones in our school, our neighborhoods, our towns, we are actually many.

We’re here. They’re pink. The world will get used to it.



  1. laurie says

    “children who know so clearly who they are”…

    Very young children are incapable of NOT being who they are. That is, until the wider world tells them who they are is wrong. It’s a testament to good parenting that your 2nd grade child is consistent with who he was at age 3. On one hand, it’s sad to see him have to face the harsh reality of being misunderstood and judged. But it’s also so inspiring to hear stories of him learning to navigate his way through this territory.

  2. shoffman says

    Thank you, Laurie. When I think of the alternative–a lifetime of denying who Sam is–I think that learning to face adversity is worth it. It’s a tough call, because there are people in the world who feel very strongly that who Sam is is not OK (and who think our parenting is terribly flawed). But then I receive letters from men who were pink boys as children who tell me they are moved to tears to hear about a pink boy being accepted for who he is, that if they had that kind of acceptance their lives would have been very different. Those stories give us strength and conviction to parent the way we do.

  3. ~a says


    i came across your “pink dress” article from 2008, and after sharing it with everyone i knew had to see if there was more… and boy is there. i am moved by your frustration, your perseverance, and your son.
    at sixteen we were fighting for GSA’s in our high school, and here you are, with a second grade son, worrying about non gendered bathrooms and the social repercussions of genderqueer school supplies.
    and krxq… you did something. you actually did SOMETHING. i’m just so… staggered. thank you for making time to share this part of your life, and bless you for realizing how badly others need to read it.
    amazing, pure and simple.

    • shoffman says

      Thank you for sharing The Pink Dress with others, and for your comments about my other writing–I’m glad you found me!

      Are you really only 16? You sound so mature. Can you please educate me–what are GSAs?

      The KRXQ thing was amazing–we are just parents, prepared to protect our children, and we just spoke our minds. It’s really a testament to the power of just speaking your truth.

      Best wishes! And keep in touch.

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